[Editor: This is a guest columnist who fears retaliation if the name is used.  AFA has checked the facts and is printing this because we believe it is important as a means of understanding the issue with the Budget language regarding the SBE.  This was not written by an AFA Team member.]

Foundation to the unfortunate discovery of the untrustworthiness of a “conservative”.

For those who did not attend the Senate Education Committee on March 6, Chairwoman Senator Ward expounded ad nauseam that 2184 did nothing more than transfer two FTEs from the oversight of the SPI to the SBE.  She reiterated time after time the lie that SPI Douglas requested the transfer.  In fact her deprecating tone to those who opposed her amendment was unprofessional in any setting, but especially so in a committee hearing to constituents.

The major bone of contention was the concern by the public that her amendment undermined the historic authority of the elected state official by transferring  supervision of personnel to an unelected board under the control of the Governor could do grave danger to the state in the future.  Senator Ward dismissed questions from the public and other committee members imperiously.  

Segue to the Budget Bill SB1469.  Passed in the middle of the night without the opportunity for members or the public to even read the bill, SB1469 created a new separate agency and transferred 11 Full Time Equivalent positions to the SBE.  In a deviation from accepted practices, that transfer of personnel was not even listed on the Summary Sheets that members rely on to give them the facts on what is in the bill.

Now  to the present.  One of our members had an e-mail interchange with Senator Ward on the subject (below in italics) 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: Kward@azleg.gov
Subject: SBE - How did this get into the budget?

 Sooo, looks like you slipped one over on “we the people”.

SB1469 / HB2671 as transmitted to the Governor and signed, made the SBE a new and separate agency and gave them not just 2 full time employees but grew it to 11 full time employees and $1,705,000 lump sum appropriation. While the legislature stopped moving HB2184 with the Ward amendment making the SBE a separate agency they put it in the budget and expanded the authorized number of employees. So it isn't about " 2 employees" as Senator Ward said in committee, they are now authorized 11 FTE.

From: Kelli Ward [mailto:kward@azleg.gov

Subject: RE: SBE - How did this get into the budget?

This is untrue – the SBE had 10.5 FTEs last year as well – there is a miniscule increase to 11 FTE. There is someone putting out very bad information to people in your group.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Actually, Senator, you are the one putting out bad information.  No one in our organization has indicated that there were any new FTEs created, just that we were assured by you that there were only two positions being considered for transfer from the voter elected SPI to the governor appointed SBE.  As you are aware, Committee Chairs keep close watch on the Appropriations process for their area of responsibility.  These budget particulars are NEVER put on the floor for a vote without the approval of the affected Chair.  While the SPI assigned certain personnel to work with the SBE in the past, they were employees of and worked under the authority of the SPI.

Senator, your latest communication that we just received  at 2:29pm today, spins a different tale and denies the creation of a new agency.  That does not pass muster for veracity.  In the Senate Summary Sheet for SB1469 – created by the staff you identify as the source for your misrepresentation – states the following:     ”Makes the SBE a separate state agency.”    I am attaching the language from SB1469 that shows the SBE being funded as a separate agency.

Sec. 33.  STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION   2015-16                

FTE positions                                11.0                

Lump sum appropriation               $  1,705,000           ($155,000 per position)     

Fund sources:

State general fund                   $  1,325,200                

Teacher certification fund                379,800

Sec. 34.  SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION

                                                    2015-16

FTE positions                               164.9

Operating lump sum appropriation   $    8,802,100                ($53,345 per position)  

Fund sources:

State general fund                 $    8,263,800

Teacher certification fund                138,200

Department of education empowerment

  scholarship account fund                400,100

The operating lump sum appropriation includes $683,900 and 8.5 FTE positions for average daily membership auditing and $200,000 and 2 FTE positions for information technology security services.  Last, but not least, it is a concern that the positions transferred to the SBE carry with them one-sixth of the budget from the SPI with only one-sixteenth of the personnel.  

As conservatives, we are outraged by the inconsistencies communicated by our “conservative” elected official. As fiscal conservatives, we are extremely concerned by the apparent largesse comprised in these eleven positions.  In your last e-mail, you stated the following: (Our questioning of the circumstances) “ It leads the conservatives to have to "play defense" with our own people instead of working proactively on our conservative agenda. Frankly, it is disappointing.”  Well Senator, when we cannot rely on the assurances of our “conservative” elected officials, it is more than disappointing, it is embarrassing and destructive!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Editor:  Below is another email we received and the response from Senator Ward.  Some of the copy above refers to issues brought up in the Senators response below.  Thanks to our members who have done follow up on the budget language issue.]

Sen. Ward:

I have read the message whereby the budget has a clause that bypasses HB2184 and establishes a separate SBE agency with 11 employees/staff and a budget for that agency of $1.7 million.  I come to you with these questions because this controversy started with your bill.  
Question: what is the structure of this new SBE stand alone agency going to be in terms of who is running it, who will be hiring and firing staff, how did this get from you saying that the issue between Douglas and Ducey amounted to "only two staffers" to now a whole separate agency.  Where did the 11 extra people come from since as of today, a member of the House related that Douglas does not know who these people are? What now are the duties of the SPI?  
And was this clause in the budget clearly debated in the proceedings that led up to the final vote on the Budget?  Who put that clause in the budget with no input - or even an alert that it would be there - from the very people who are already wildly opposed to 2184?
Thank you for your time and I will look forward to some clarification on this matter.
(signed)

From: Kelli Ward <kward@azleg.gov>
Date: Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 2:29 PM
Subject: RE: About the entry in the Budget

Thanks for writing. I hope I can help clarify some of the misinformation that is being circulated. According to Senate staff, the SBE had 10.5 employees last year and 11 now. There is no real change. There is no new “agency.” There are 3 policy employees and 8 employees who do teacher certification and investigations into complaints about teachers. It is not new. I'm not sure why our side continues to agitate people for no reason. It leads the conservatives to have to "play defense" with our own people instead of working proactively on our conservative agenda. Frankly, it is disappointing.

 

http://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/marchplanengrossed030915.pdf

 

Pages 17, 23, and 32 from this document will show the new SBE and the equivalent subtraction from ADE.

 

http://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/15AR/ade.pdf

 

Page 134 of the Appropriations Report lists the SBE numbers within the ADE budget.

 

http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/52leg/1r/bills/sb1469s.pdf

 

Section 33 of the bill, page 24 of the document shows the new SBE budget unit starting in FY 16.

 

Sincerely,

Kelli

Senator Kelli Ward, DO, MPH

Serving AZ's 5th Legislative District

Senate Education Chairman


[Editor:  In our view, Sen. Ward did not answer the questions asked, such as "was the clause in the budget clearly debated" which we believe to be germane to this issue.]

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Replies to This Discussion

I don't understand why some are jumping on the Kelli Ward bandwagon so early. As an AFA member I appreciate the information posted here. Keep in mind there is still business going on at the AZ Legislature. We can't just curl up in a fetal position and ignore what is going on there just to protect her because she is the only one so far willing to run against McCain. You should welcome the information which is thoroughly checked out before it is posted. This is an important site to spread the facts and help educate those who don't follow the local politics so closely.

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